the turn-taking system is a basic organizational device for the repair of any other troubles in conversation
— Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson (1974)

Basic characteristics of repair

  • Preference for self-correction

  • Other-initiated repair occurs at end of turn


Other-initiated repair

  • organized as adjacency pairs

  • initiated with varying forms of specificity, ranging from “Huh?” to “What do you mean by…?”

  • highly concentrated in their placement

  • can occur after any turn

  • can involve multiple sequences if initial attempt does not resolve trouble

  • completed in no more than three tries; after three, the effort is usually abandoned

Further reading

Sacks, H., Schegloff, E. A., & Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language50(4), 696–735.

Schegloff, E. A. (2007). Sequence organization in interaction: A primer in conversation analysis, vol 1. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Schegloff, E. A., Jefferson, G., & Sacks, H. (1977). The preference for self-correction in the organization of repair in conversation. Language53(2), 361–381.

Suchman, L. A. (2002). Human-machine reconfigurations: Plans and situated actions(2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.